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Humanitarian Catastrophe Unfolds in Sri Lanka April 17th, 2009

Human Rights Watch has posted a photo montage of the humanitarian catastrophe in the northern Vanni region of Sri Lanka. Human Rights Watch researcher Anna Neistat says both sides in Sri Lanka’s conflict are violating the laws of war, endangering the roughly 100,000 civilians trapped in a government-declared “no-fire zone.” Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels have prevented civilians from leaving the tiny strip of land, while government forces shell the area daily, leading to numerous casualties.

The photos in this slideshow are from a makeshift hospital in Putumattalan that was treating survivors of attacks on April 8 and 9, 2009. Many were women and children who were waiting in a food distribution line in Pokkanai when artillery shells hit.

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Sri Lanka: No Let-Up in Army Shelling of Civilians March 25th, 2009

Tamil Tigers Unwilling to Release Their Hold on 150,000 People

The Sri Lankan army, despite government denials, is indiscriminately shelling the “no-fire zone” in northern Sri Lanka where thousands of civilians are trapped by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, citing new information from the region. More than 2,700 civilians have reportedly been killed over the last two months, and the number of casualties rises daily.

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Support Humanitarian Relief and a Political Settlement in Sri Lanka March 5th, 2009

Please ask your Representative to join this action to support humanitarian relief and a political settlement in Sri Lanka. Sign-ons are being accepted until noon on Monday, March 9th. See details below.
Congressman Jim Moran is asking his congressional colleagues to join him in sending the following letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice urging them to continue steps to address the grave humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and to work for a sustainable political settlement after the decades-long fighting ends.

Up to 200,000 civilians are trapped in northern Sri Lanka, amid fighting between Sri Lankan Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Most have been cut off from outside food and medical supplies for weeks. Many have died from heavy artillery and air attacks and people are beginning to die of starvation. Human Rights Watch reports that 2,000 Tamil civilians have been killed since January, and 7,000 civilians have been wounded.

U.S. engagement thus far has achieved some important results. The Congressional action encourages further action to press for full protection of all civilians, greater engagement by United Nations agencies and others in humanitarian relief, and progress toward a lasting political settlement that includes ethnic Tamils in national governance. U.S. engagement both bilaterally with the Sri Lankan Government and at the United Nations is critical to saving lives and contributing to a better future for Sri Lanka, whose citizens have suffered greatly during a 25-year war.

Download PDF of Congressional letter to Secretary Clinton

Download PDF of Congressional letter to Ambassador Rice

Please tell your representative that to sign on, contact Tasha Manoranjan of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s office at 225-2015 or, or David Young of Rep. Jim Moran’s office at 225-3979 or The deadline to sign these letters is Monday March 9, at noon.

Senate Foreign Relations South Asia Subcommittee holds Hearing on Sri Lanka February 25th, 2009

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee room was standing room only on Tuesday afternoon for a Hearing called by the South Asia Subcommittee on “The Present Situation in Sri Lanka.” Senator Bob Casey (Dem-PA) chaired the Hearing.

The Honorable Jeffrey J. Lunstead, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dr. Anna Neistat, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch, and Mr. Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists presented testimony. Highlighted were the humanitarian crisis in the north (Vanni), problems associated with government camps established to intern civilians fleeing the fighting, and the increasingly brutal attacks against journalists. The need for a durable political solution to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka was also emphasized.


The Honorable Jeffrey J. Lunstead
Former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Dr. Anna Neistat
Senior Researcher
Human Rights Watch

Mr. Bob Dietz
Asia Program Coordinator
Committee to Protect Journalists

Religious Statements Decry Endangerment of Tamil Civilians in Sri Lankan Civil War February 10th, 2009

Oblates and others have joined the international condemnation of the tactics of both the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE that have endangered the lives of hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians. A list of statements is given below:

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